Getting our votes back – one week on...
“After being disenfranchised for so many years, I have literally, literally, just re-registered to vote. What a feeling! It’s so significant, it’s hard to put into words what this means to me.”
(An early bird in the NL already sent us this message at 5:30 am on 16 January).
UK Nationals living overseas for more than 15 years had their vote returned a week ago on 16 January 2024. Here we review the first week of our get the vote out campaign. The restoration of the vote to over 2 million Brits abroad was rolled out with surprisingly little fanfare for the largest increase to the UK voting franchise since 1928, which brought in full equal voting rights for women.
This last week saw 18k new overseas voter registration applications. On the first day alone 6337 people applied to register, numbers that we would normally only see in the last weeks before a general election deadline.
This is even before the next general election has been announced, although there has been more discussion this week about the prospect of a Spring election.
British in Europe has been active over the past 7 days with a series of interviews and an awareness-raising campaign in partnership with the Electoral Commission.
Co-chair Jane Golding started the press coverage with an interview in a well-read article on The Guardian website.
Co-chair Fiona Godfrey dug in deep during a Storm Huntley panel when faced with Mike Parry. She also joined Votes-for-Life veteran and BiE Steering Team member Roger Boaden on PM on BBC Radio 4.
Politico, Byline Times, and Europe Street News have all featured interviews with Jane Golding. We have also spoken to other publications such as Living Magazine (France), The Connexion (France) and Sur (Spain).
Meanwhile, we have been partnering with the Electoral Commission on their awareness raising campaign and this drove potential voters to our FAQ post which has now been consulted over 5125 times. Posts have been shared widely on X/Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn and engagement figures have been high.
So, how have voters found the new registration application process?
In a nutshell, simple to use and quick to complete (5-10 minutes). Even those who are missing one of the three key elements (passport, NI number and last UK address) have been able to complete the application process.
Confirmation that the application has been sent to the relevant council has been quick, and some individuals have even heard back from the council that they have been added back onto the electoral roll.
There have been a number of questions raised about the process which we have fed back to the Electoral Commission and we will publish an update to the FAQs when we receive the answers. We expect that the Electoral Commission will also update its information where appropriate.
BiE will also be watching how long council confirmations take and, importantly, monitoring refusals so do please join us on our social media accounts or email us on email@example.com if you would like to give us feedback on your application.
How can you help?
You can help us get the message out:
1) share our social media posts and our press interviews
2) email or phone friends and family who live abroad and encourage them to register asap
3) DONATE so we can take more action.
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